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I Am Not Myself These Days
Release Date: February, 2006
Publisher: Harper Perennial
I Am Not Myself These Days is Josh Kilmer-Purcell's outrageously intimate memoir of a young man living a double life in the heady days and nights of mid-'90s New York City. As we follow Kilmer-Purcell through alcohol-fueled nights and a love affair with Jack, a crack-addicted male escort, he offers up an alternative universe where normal is "a Normal Rockwell painting that, if you leaned in close, would discover is made up entirely of misfits." By day, Josh drudges off to a Soho-based advertising firm where he creates ad campaigns for corporate clients. At night, he dons live goldfish to complete the look of Aqua, a 7-foot-tall award-winning drag queen who trolls gay clubs in search of her next drink/one night stand. In between, he spends his time trying to build a stable, loving relationship with someone whose beeping pager is a constant reminder of the pair's almost inevitable fate. Yet even as Josh's escapades get increasingly absurd, Kilmer-Purcell is always there to remind us that the story we're reading is real, and that fundamental human emotions and desires are essentially universal. In the end, everyone just wants to be loved and to fit in somewhere. And while the lesson may seem hokey at times, Kilmer-Purcell's sharp wit rescues the memoir from becoming an exaggerated sob story: The night before any major holiday is always a blockbuster night at gay clubs. Thousands... across the city fortifying themselves for long trips home where they'll be met with awkward silences, stilted conversations and cousins with whom they'd experimented with decades ago. From start to finish, I Am Not Myself These Days is an extraordinary journey into an amazing life. To be a fly on the wall is an adventure that should not be missed. --Gisele Toueg
||1.0 x 5.3 x 7.9 in.
Posted by Queen Fabulina on 2/7/2006
Fantastic book. Excellent narrative that manages to cover some themes and topics that aren't necessarily well-documented (the 90's, drag queen culture, NY scene) while covering themes and topics that are universal (the dynamics of loving people who are bad for you, doing things that are bad for you, being things that are bad for you).
Posted by Nurse Randella on 2/26/2006
Sink or swim is what happens to people in NYC, and Josh Kilmer-Purcell describes this phenomenon perfectly in his book. People either make it in New York, or they have to leave it to survive. The book takes us back to the hedonic 90s where licentiousness and inebriation were de rigeur and drag queens ruled the night, but that is the backdrop for the story of book, which is really the story between Josh and Jack. Anyone who has been in a relationship with the "wrong" person even though it feels so "right" will understand the ups and downs that Jack and Josh experience in their brief but bright relationship. Aqua becomes the symbolic fish that has to sink or swim in the story. Swimming means survival, as she deals with the eventual loss of the one person that has shown her true love and gave her a feeling of safety and security, even though he is a high end male escort who happens to be addicted to smoking crack. Though the downward spiral is eventual, one keeps hoping that it will work out for these two, because they really love each other.
Though written as a memoir, it's a love story that deals with survival and ultimately growing up. I couldn't put it down, and it is a must read!
Not since Joan of Arc has a gal with bad hair been so inspiring!
Posted by Mrs. Betty Bowers, America's Best Christian on 2/8/2006
I thought this was a lovely, inspiring story of a charming, perspicacious Christian gal from a small town finally turning her too-high heels and rebuking the demons that multiply like methhead rabbits in the godless town of New York. To paraphrase the unsaved Dorothy Parker, it is rather unfortunate to be known as the town whore -- especially in Manhattan. Nevertheless, though her abject repentance on bended knee before her Personal Savior was, to say the least, rather metaphoric, this sweet sparrow of the Lord rose like a Phoenix from a Soho coffee table bong. To be alarmingly candid, I'm not sure what a drag queen is, but I imagine that it has something to do with Catholicism.
"I'm a drag queen. I'm a celebrity trapped inside a normal person's body."
Posted by Jessica Lux on 4/24/2006
It's New York city in the mid-1990s and our author is an advertising agent by day and a wild drag queen with fish-filled breasts at night. He performs nightly as his Aquadisiac alter-ego, staying out until the wee hours of the morning fueled by vodka, and crams in work the next day before starting all over again. Fortunately, no one can smell the vodka coming out of his pores. Much of his time is spent reconstructing the night before, figuring out where he is waking up, and trying to remember who he talked to and what he did the night before. His advertising campaigns come in brilliant bursts of last-minute energy.
Then comes Jack, the gay male escort who sweeps Josh's life into a semblance of order. Jack loves Aqua and Josh loves Jack. Mid-way through the book, the reader will realize that all the over-the-top orgies, Jack's S & M clients, the drug use, and the rampant alcohol abuse are just fluff around a true love story. Sure, it's titillating to get a glimpse inside alternate lifestyles, but this is truly the story of two misfits who complete eachother. This is a book that will teach you how a drag queen hides his private parts (an entire chapter is devoted to the deconstruction of the male and invention of the female persona), give you every detail about the process of preparing crack in a NY penthouse kitchen, show you the true friendship that develops between Josh and one of Jack's CEO clients who spends weekends tied up on the penthouse floor, and crush your heart with the agony of loving someone who is addicted to drugs. Josh, with his 10-plus vodka-a-day habit, seems like the messed up one in the beginning, but it is Jack who succumbs to addiction, leaving Josh to helplessly look on.
So we have sex, drugs, and club music, mixed up with a love story that got me in the gut by the end of the book...what more could you need? Josh tops this all off with a hilarious and over-the-top narrative voice. When depressed, he fantasizes about being in a Lifetime movie, so he drinks vodka in bed and walks around the apartment alone making declarations about a marriage, mortgage, or the kids. When he lies for a co-worker, he changes his story half a dozen times to make it more "realistic," nevermind that the facts are completely different. He's not an alcoholic, he's a social catalyst, someone who gets paid to illustrate the chemical process of drinking to other partygoers. When he wakes up to a crack-high Jack standing over him with a knife, Josh complains that he just got the expensive knife for Christmas. Jack changes his mind about the murder-suicide he had planned, and Josh goes back to sleep, reminding him to put the knife back in the rack so it doesn't rust.
As over-the-top as this narrative is, it is in no way implausible (I need to make this statement because James Frey wrote a cover blurb). The story of Jack's present to Josh for his first New York Christmas will touch even the most hardened reader. Truly, this book is Josh's tribute to a man he loved for one unforgettable year in New York city. If you enjoy this, try the darker tale of Ron Nyswaner`s love for a male escort in the book Blue Days, Black Nights.